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قراءة كتاب Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776

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Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776

Our Legal Heritage: King AEthelbert - King George III, 600 A.D. - 1776

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Our Legal Heritage, by S. A. Reilly

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Title: Our Legal Heritage King AEthelbert - King George III, 1776, 600 A.D. - 1776

Author: S. A. Reilly

Release Date: September 16, 2012 [eBook #40780] [Note: Earlier editions are available in #36299, 13376, 6603 and 1694]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Copyright (C) 2004, 2012 by S. A. Reilly


King AEthelbert - King George III, 1776, 600 A.D. - 1776


                S. A. Reilly, Attorney
                175 E. Delaware Place
                Chicago, Illinois 60611-7715
                [email protected]

Copyright (C) 2004, 2012


This book was written for people with an interest in English legal history who don't know where to start reading, as I didn't. Its purpose is also to look at history through its laws, which do not lend themselves to interpretation, and thus points of view, as does conventional history; one cannot argue with the black letter of the law. Attorneys will be interested in reading about the historical context in which the legal doctrines they learned in law school developed. This book includes the complete law codes of King Alfred and of King Aethelbert, the law code of King Canute, paraphrased, excerpts from the law code of Henry I, the entire Magna Carta, and the statutes of England relevant to English life, but excluding such topics as Scottish affairs and wars with Ireland. It also includes the inception of the common law system, which was praised because it made law which was not handed down by an absolutist king; the origin of the jury system; the meaning of the Magna Carta provisions in their historical context; and the emergence of attorneys. This book is a primer. One may read it without prior knowledge of history or law, although it will be more meaningful to attorneys than to others. It can serve as an introduction on which to base further reading in English legal history. It defines terms unique to English legal history. However, the meaning of some terms in King Aethelbert's code in Chapter 1 are unknown or inexact. In the Table of Contents, the title of each chapter denotes an important legal development in the given time period for that chapter. Each chapter is divided into three sections: The Times, The Law, and Judicial Procedure. The Times section sets a background and context in which to better understand the law of that period. The usual subject matter of history such as battles, wars, royal intrigues, periods of corruption, and international relations are omitted as not helping to understand the process of civilization and development of the law. Standard practices are described, but there are often variations with locality. Also, change did not come abruptly, but with vacillations, e.g. the change from pagan to Christian belief and the change to allowance of loans for interest. The scientific revolution was accepted only slowly. There were often many attempts made for change before it actually occurred, e.g. gaining Parliamentary power over the king's privileges, such as taxation. The Law section describes the law governing the behavior and conduct of the populace. It includes law of that time which is the same, similar, or a building block to the law of today. In earlier times this is both statutory law and the common law of the courts. The Magna Carta, which is quoted in Chapter 7, is the first statute of England and is listed first in the "Statutes of the Realm" and the "Statutes at Large". The law sections of Chapters 7 - 18 mainly quote or paraphrase almost all of these statutes. Excluded are statutes which do not help us understand the development of our law, such as statutes governing Wales after its conquest and statutes on succession rights to the throne. The Judicial Procedure section describes the process of applying the law and trying cases, and jurisdictions. It also contains some examples of cases. Money is expressed in pounds, shillings, pence, scaetts, or marks, which is a Danish denomination. There are twenty shillings in a pound. A mark in silver is two-thirds of a pound. Shillings are abbreviated: "s." The pre-Norman English shilling was divided into 4 pence or pennies. In Henry I's time, the shilling was divided into 5 pence. The Norman shilling was introduced by Henry II and was divided into 12 pennies. This penny was literally one pennyweight of silver, so a pound sterling thus weighed 240 pennyweights. Pence are abbreviated "d.", for the Roman denarius. For example, six shillings and two pence is denoted 6s.2d. A scaett was a coin of silver and copper of lesser denomination; there were 20 scaetts to one shilling. There were no coins of the denomination of shilling during pre-Norman times.

Dedication and Acknowledgements

A Vassar College faculty member once dedicated her book to her students, but for whom it would have been written much earlier. This book "Our Legal Heritage" is dedicated to the faculty of Vassar College, without whom it would never have been written. Much appreciation goes to Professor James Curtin of Loyola Law School for his review and comments on this book's medieval period: Chapters 4-10, and especially his comment that "I learned quite a bit about life in those days from your work." Thanks go to Loyola University Law School Professor George Anastaplo for introducing me to Professor Curtin. Much appreciation goes to Professor Lacey Baldwin Smith of Northwestern University's History Department for his review and comments on this book's Tudor and Stuart periods: Chapters 11-17, especially his comment that he learned a lot. Thanks go to Northwestern University Law School Professor Steven Presser for introducing me to Professor Smith. Finally, many thanks go to fellow Mensan William Wedgeworth for proof-reading the entire book.

Table of Contents


1. Tort law as the first written law: to 600 2. Oaths and perjury: 600-900 3. Marriage law: 900-1066 4. Martial "law": 1066-1100 5. Criminal law and prosecution: 1100-1154 6. Common Law for all freemen: 1154-1215 7. Magna Carta: the first statute: 1215-1272 8. Land law: 1272-1348 9. Legislating the economy: 1348-1399 10. Equity from Chancery Court: 1399-1485 11. Use-trust of land: 1485-1509 12. Wills and testaments of lands and goods: 1509-1558 13. Consideration and contract Law: 1558-1601 14. Welfare for the poor: 1601-1625 15. Independence of the courts: 1625-1642 16. Freedom of religion: 1642-1660 17. Habeas Corpus: 1660-1702 18. Service of Process instead of arrest: 1702-1776

Appendix: Sovereigns of England